The death of a sibling can change a family. Parents may struggle as parents or be nurturing to other children. Siblings can feel survivor’s guilt, regret, and a loss of shared history among many other complex feelings. The age of the sibling as well as how they died, may add layers of complexity to both processing and expressing your grief. It can be both hard and comforting to find support within your family.
Here are some things to consider:
Take inventory - if your parent(s) are still alive, what needs do you have that they can meet and which needs can they not meet at this time? Being able to differentiate what is possible and not possible right now will help you identify what needs have to be met elsewhere.
Encourage open communication – every family dynamic is different so this may not be easily done in your family, but consider initiating open and honest conversations about feelings, memories, and day-to-day struggles. Sometimes, the pain is so hard to navigate that we aren’t sure what to say or how to say it so we remain silent. If you can, push through and try to find the words. It may help your family come together and talk openly. Be compassionate and patient.
Give and take –death is a disruption to our lives and has a way of forcing us to compromise. Create boundaries and know what you can and cannot give. But also be willing to receive. Vulnerability is brave not weak.
Identify a good friend – family dynamics, complex emotions, and all that comes with grief can make you feel like you’re going crazy. A supportive friend can help you get out of an echo chamber by listening and giving you a different perspective.
Exercise – grief is not just an emotion. It comes with fatigue and other ailments. Exercise is a healthy coping strategy if you’re able to do so.